Michigan marriage lawsuit will proceed to trial
October 16, 2013
Today, a federal U.S. judge heard oral arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder, a federal lawsuit that challenges the 2004 law in Michigan that restricts marriage to different-sex couples. After hearing from the defendants and the plaintiffs in the case, Judge Bernard Friedman announced that he will issue a written opinion and that the case will proceed to trial. He has scheduled the trial for February 25, 2014.
Judge Friedman said that he wished he could issue a ruling today, and that he understood that time is of the essence. He then added that he cannot grant the motions today, saying, "I'm in the middle. I have to decide this as a matter of law. I intend to do so."
The plaintiffs in the case are April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who filed the lawsuit in January 2012 seeking the freedom to jointly adopt their three children who they raised as foster moms. Michigan law prevents same-sex couples from jointly adopting children. In August 2012, the lawsuit was expanded to challenge the anti-marriage law in Michigan.
Marriage advocates in Michigan hoped that Judge Friedman would issue a ruling today in favor of the freedom to marry. These marriage supporters know that same-sex couples and their families cannot wait any longer for fairness and equality in the state of Michigan. Before today's hearing, several county clerks already confirmed that they were prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
During today's hearing, a representative spoke on behalf of Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, a defendant in the case. Brown's representative, Michael Pitt, explained that Brown knows her position as a county clerk requires her to uphold Michigan law. "The clerk knows as we all do, that committed same sex couples live together" provide stablity, help each other, help their families, and promote comfort at the end of life." Brown explained that because she is barred from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she has told these families "that their otherwise valid relationship is not entitled to state recognition." Pitt ended the argument by saying that Brown wants to be able to issue marriage licensees to families like April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, adding that "She will delay in not even one minute in carrying out this duty."
Freedom to Marry urges Judge Friedman to stand on the right side of history when he issues a ruling in DeBoer v. Snyder. Increasingly, Michigan residents understand that the 2004 constitutional amendment injures families and helps no one and is untrue to Michigan's values - as well as the values found in the U.S. Constitution. Loving, committed Michigan couples do the work of marriage each and every day, and they deserve and need the same commitment of marriage under the law.
Learn more about DeBoer v. Snyder HERE, and read more about the freedom to marry in Michigan.